Brian Schmidt
for Santa Clara Valley Water District Board
for Santa Clara Valley
District Water Board

In the News & Our Community

Brian ran in the Marsh Madness Run on October 30th to
"help local youth and teens be healthy." Go Brian!

Letter published in the October 29th Mountain View Voice:  "Schmidt for Water District Board"

from the letter (pages 15 and 16):

   I was pleased to read the Voice's endorsement of Brian Schmidt for the District 7 slot on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board.
   Brian has the right combination of energy - at 43 he would be the youngest member of Santa Clara Valley Water District Board - and relevant experience to bring postive change to a board that sorely needs it.  That is why he has the endorsement of the majority of the city councils of Mounatin View, Palo Alto, and Los Altos Hills, along with the Mercury News, Supervisor Liz Kniss and many others.
   The district's mission is to provide water, prevent flooding, and protect the area's watershed.  Brian Schmidt has been strong, knowledgeable and fair-minded leader on the water and environmental issues in Santa Clara County for many years.  He has served six years on the district's Environmental Advisory Committee and the Performance Audit Committee.  Brian is committed to making the board more accessible to the public, and to fighting for mercury cleanup in Santa Clara County, the most mercury-polluted county in California.
   The water district has been in the news too often for cozy dealings and excessive pay.  I have known Brian Schmidt for eight years, and he has that combination of integrity, intellect, passion and determination that's needed to bring meaningful reform to the water district.  I urge you to vote for Brian Schmidt for the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board.

Jeff Segall
California Street, Mountain View  

Brian is endorsed by the Mountain View Voice (October 15th).

Mountain View Voice opinion: Schmidt for water board seat

According to the Mountain View Voice:

Our choice in this race is Schmidt, a Mountain View resident who promises to cut costs and step up mercury reduction in local waterways. Schmidt's cost-cutting focus centers on the $260 per meeting stipend now paid to board members, and he also promises to look at other areas, like superfluous dredging of local waterways. Schmidt has lived in the area for nearly 15 years and has served on the district's performance audit and environmental advisory committees.

Vote for Brian Schmidt for the Santa Clara Water District's District 7 seat.

Brian shared his vision for the Water District with voters at forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Los Altos Library and public access channel KMVT on October 18th in Los Altos. Click here for a summary of the event posted by The Patch.

Brian is endorsed by the San Jose Mercury News (October 13th). 

League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Los Altos Library and public access channel KMVT on October 18th in Los Altos. for a summary of the event posted by The Patch.

Mercury News editorial: Gage, Lezotte and Schmidt will help reform Santa Clara Valley Water District

According to the Mercury News:

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is ripe for reform in the Nov. 2 election, thanks to the pileup of board outrages over the past three years and the addition of new electoral seats. Finally, there's a real chance to shake up the leadership that too often has provided poor oversight of an agency with an annual budget of $315 million in taxpayers' money. Trustees sometimes stay for upward of 20 years on this board, perhaps addicted to the pay and benefits that are excessive for the part-time job.

Fortunately, in three contested seats for the seven-member board, there are good candidates. We recommend outgoing Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage in District 1, former San Jose Councilwoman Linda LeZotte in District 4 and environmental attorney Brian Schmidt in District 7....

District 7 offers the toughest choice. Both Schmidt and Los Altos City Councilman Lou Becker seem solid on reform and are qualified for the job. We lean toward Schmidt because of his longtime advocacy and deep understanding of environmental issues. His relative youth -- at 43 he would be easily the youngest board member -- could also inject new energy into the board. In addition, his North County orientation would balance Gage, who is backed by the farm bureau and cattlemen.

Brian worked to bring Water District Board compensation in line with City Council compensation, appearing at the October 12 meeting and submitting the letter below.  The bad news is the Board voted the wrong way, deciding 4-3 to increase compensation instead of decreasing it.  The good news is that turnover of new directors will make it possible to get a new vote sending the District in the right direction.

Brian's letter follows (and Brian was the only candidate who wrote or participated in the meeting):

October 12, 2010


Santa Clara Valley Water District, Board of Directors


                Re:  Agenda Item 5 - Board member responsibilities and compensation should be made roughly comparable to those of City Council Members


Dear Chair Santos and Members of the Board:


I am impressed with the importance of the Board's work and the time I have seen given to that work.  Chair Santos in particular has been involved with some of the same projects that also concern my environmental work in San Jose, and he's always present and participating.  While I believe the Water District Board needs to recast its responsibilities and reduce its compensation, my belief in no way denigrates the work and commitment of current or past Board Directors.


The main problem as I see it is that this Board is straddling an uncomfortable middle ground between the full-time, fully-compensated work of bodies like our County Board of Supervisors, and the more limited work and modest compensation of most City Councils in our County.  I think it would make more sense to choose one of these two roles and to operate like a City Council, with comparable hours and comparable compensation.


Switching to evening meetings, like most City Councils, would make it much more feasible for people who have day jobs to serve on the District Board, as well as make it possible for more people to attend meetings.  Switching to a rate of compensation that is similar to that of City Council Members would therefore be appropriate.


The rate of $260 per meeting and up to $2,600 per month is not similar to what Council Members receive.  I suggest cutting the rate by more than 50%, to about $100-$125 per meeting and up to $1000-$1,250 per month.  Such a rate would still be at the high end of what council members receive, but at least would be in the general range of comparable payment rates.  Making this proposed cut would demonstrate that the District Board is serious about cost control and about reconnecting to the community by adopting a more broadly accepted compensation rate.


Two additional steps should also be taken.  First, there is a potential conflict between Water Code section 20201 that allows the District Board to raise the compensation rate, and the District Act that sets a fixed limit significantly below the proposed compensation rate.  While I appreciate the helpful explanatory paragraph in today's agenda item, I suggest the Board direct District Counsel to prepare a publicly-available memo explaining in more detail how these two laws interact and the reason why the District does not believe the fixed limit in the District Act is applicable.  In particular, the memo should explain whether section 33 of the District Act was passed later in time than the Water Code section, or if the Water Code section has been subsequently restated or reauthorized. The memo should also state why the Directors compensation had not been reset to the rate fixed by section 33 at the time that the District Act was last reauthorized by the legislature (note that section 20201 uses the word "increases," not "changes," when saying increases should be governed by the Water Code and not by legislation).


Second, the District Board should set rules regarding when a Director can be compensated for participating in community meetings if that Director has determined that he or she has a conflict of interest over the primary subject matter of the meeting.  My recommendation is that if the Director has determined that he or she has a conflict that prevents participation in a decision at the Board, then that Director should only participate in community meetings on the subject as a private person and should not be compensated for that participation.  If the meeting also concerns other Water District subjects, then compensation may be appropriate, but only if the treatment of other subjects is more than de minimus.  It is not clear to me whether any such rules currently exist, but I have not seen mention of them.


I thank the District Board for this opportunity to comment, and please feel free to contact me with any questions.




Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt for Santa Clara Valley Water District 2010

Brian's campaign participated in the Bike Palo Alto! event as a part of the 
work day" events. According to, "right now, people at 7,347 events in 188 countries are getting to work on the climate crisis." 

Visit the Midpeninsula Community Media Center for its coverage of the 2010 election and to see Brian's campaign statement.
His statement will air on the following days:

  • October 9th at 6:30pm on channel 27
  • October 10th at 8:30am on channel 27
  • October 12th at 7:30pm on channel 30
  • October 16th at 10:00pm on channel 27
You can also watch his statement online: click here or visit:
UPDATE:  There may be a limit to using state legislation to create term limits for the Water District, so consider the proposal to cut Director compensation in half to be a better idea of a specific way to save money.

Brian and his wife attended the Palo Alto Black & White Ball on October 2nd. In addition to having a great deal of fun sampling food from local restaurants, meeting new people and catching up with voters in the region, Brian enjoyed meeting the local organizations that were supported by the funds raised from the event, including;

  • Youth Community Service
  • Middle School Athletics
  • Palo Alto Library Foundation
  • Partners in Education (PiE).

Brian and his supporters have been meeting with voters at Farmers' Markets across his district. In the picture to the right he is speaking with a voter in Palo Alto.

Look for Brian at the following Farmers' Markets:
Brian and his supporters met with voters at the
Palo Alto Festival of Arts
on August 28th.

The Los Altos Town Crier spotlights Brian's candidacy and how
Brian is "excited to enter this campaign and to lead a community effort to fix the governance of the district, get mercury out of our streams and fish, and make the district the environmental champion that it’s intended to be.” August 17th: MV Lawyer to run for water board

It's offic
ial - Brian's ballot documents are filed and the race officially launches - as noted in the Mercury News on August 6th:  Santa Clara County candidates file for council, board seats

Brian makes the case for term limits - "We need to have some fresh ideas," said Schmidt. Read about Brian's letter to the water board and t
erm limits in the Mercury News on July 27th: Santa Clara Water Valley District board to vote on term limits
The campaign is heating up early - read what the Mountain View Voice has to say about the three candidates in the race on July 19th:
Three candidates to run for new water district seat: Environmentalist, two local politicians file papers for November election

Read Brian's recent Op-Ed piece on the creation of a Silicon Archipelago in the Mercury News on July 7th: Opinion: San Jose finally may end the sprawl of Silicon Valley
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